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Friday, February 13, 2015, Falgun 1, 1421, Robi-Us-Sani 23, 1436 Hijr


Eclectic approach to teaching language
MASUM BILLAH
Published : Friday, 13 February, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 46
The eclectic approach is the label given to a teacher's use of techniques and activities from a range of language teaching approaches and methodologies. The teacher decides what methodology or approach to use depending on the aims of the lesson and the learners in the group. Eclectic approach for teaching foreign language is commendable when circumstances do not allow for the adoption of a single method. Learners of foreign languages nowadays are prepared to invest less time than before in learning a foreign language. However, they expect to become sufficiently competent in that language in order to be able to perform well under particular circumstances. It is neither a teaching tool for the teacher nor a learning method for the learners. It is a whole way of doing things such as listening coordinated speaking with subsidiary elements like pronunciation and form of the language.
The eclectic method provides a third option for teachers because it fuses elements from traditional and cognitive methods to deliver on the strengths of both. It includes content integration, knowledge construction, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogy, and empowerment of competitive aptitudes. To accommodate these changes, teachers need a new way of thinking. The concept of bilingual knowledge learning has evolved towards a vision based more on management and creation rather than one based on learning only. Still, how to apply them to bilingual learning is a new concept and continually inspires teachers to move forward. Teachers should help children learn by thinking about controlling, and effectively using their own mental process. Cognitive learning helps children process new information by taking advantage of knowledge and attitudes that children already have. Under the principles of cognitive theory, knowledge that makes sense and has significance to children is more meaningful than inert knowledge and knowledge learned by rote. Knowledge to solve problems and to use skills in situations like those they are likely to encounter in real life or in other senses in which teachers expect learning to transfer to.
Teaching a foreign language must be simple for both teacher and learner and must be within the capabilities of all teachers. Also, the teacher must feel that pupils are progressing satisfactorily. It must bring about a balance between the spoken and written word. It must overcome the conflict between fluency and accuracy. It must increase the rate and amount of learning which takes place in the classroom. Testing must be part of the method, and not separate entity. It must reflect the linguistic habits the child has already acquired by learning his/ her mother tongue and their ability to assimilate a new language. Since our aim is to have our learners master the foreign language, no matter what approach we adopt. We should adopt an approach which makes our teachers master the foreign language in listening, speaking, reading and writing with understanding. Such approach is not only structural or only functional but co-joins both. Each approach has advantages as well as disadvantages. The use of eclecticism does not mean to mix up different approaches randomly. There must have some philosophical backgrounds and some systematic relation among different activities. Usually it is recommended to mix structural approaches with communicative use of language. The kind of eclecticism we tried to implement here is a mixture of traditional reading based approach and some conversational practice for students. Language is based on structures which are used to convey meanings, which perform functions. We see language learning as combined process of structural and communicative activities.
The eclectic theory of language was advocated during the year 1990's and because important for the educational theory of language learning. It is popular because it has the impact of good results without much pressure on the learner. The advantage of this theory is learners have clear vision what they are learning. Multiple tasks, high interaction, lively learning, objective correlative, and fast results are the salient features of this method. Some learners go by their own ways of communicating strategy, they will become more confident in writing but most often they fail in speaking. The purpose of advocating elective method is to connect life experiences to the ideas presented in learning of the language. The types of learning activities teachers select are often directly related to their experiences in the real world.
Language must be put together and learnt concurrently. The spoken language allows one to locate the appropriate way to get a particular objective. The importance of introducing cultural product is as crucial to such learning of the language as capturing and enhancing knowledge or expressing one's feelings. The problem of speaking ranges from creating a story which has to anticipate events. Elective way of speaking is a wonderful way of achieving objective of learning. Teachers of English need to focus on the special teaching techniques. There are many methods of teaching English out of which Eclectic way of teaching include positive objectives of known methods and principles of Eclectic method. Eclectic method is a popular method these days because students are heterogeneous and versatile level intelligent in the classroom. However, some teachers are very sensitive of using various methods; they find particular method as comfortable using in the classroom without taking much trouble. Teacher ought to use all the principles of language teaching including cognition and linguistic objectives. A technique of teaching through electric ways is a rich combination of multiple activities. The salient features of approach include the low level grammar and oriental context of culture texts which may not bring out whole linguistic competence of the students if they are to be trained for global market leaders. If teacher does not pay attention to the need of respective student, the whole teaching practice is useless.
Some people advocate Eclectic method greatly and some criticize it harshly. Of course, it has its own advantages and disadvantages. The advantages lay in general understanding aspects. Firstly, with this theory, it becomes easier and more possible for the learners to understand the language of the text with the context of culture. Secondly, it blends the practice of listening, speaking, reading and writing into an organic whole. It is obvious that any one method does not serve the right purpose of teaching English. This is how teaching English by combination of various methods and approaches will help the teacher to teach English effectively. Teaching of English should be made easy by brining into realistic situation, the best way of teaching English is by creating situations. The situation makes the language easily comprehensible. It connects a closer link between an expressions and usage by coordinating meaning. It is also important that creating situations should be appropriate to students 'level and their context of culture. Teachers of English themselves are not very efficient in many cases. This is why Eclectic method may be appropriate in many situations. It advocates that number of methods can be used based on the selection of particular method which depends on level of students. However, basic principle learning is simplicity. Eclectic method of learning is an integral part of the total learning process.
Larsen-Freeman (2000) and Mellow (2000) both have used the term principled eclecticism to describe a desirable, coherent, pluralistic approach to language teaching. Eclecticism involves the use of variety of language learning activities, each of which may have very different characteristics and may be motivated by different underlying assumption. The use eclecticism is due to the fact that there are strengths and weaknesses of single theory based methods. Reliance upon a single theory of teaching has been criticized because the use of a limited number of techniques can become mechanic. The students thus cannot get benefits of learning.
Experience has shown time and again that sticking blindly to a single ' pure' method or approach to ELT leads to marginal results and short-lived competencies in restricted areas of the foreign language practice. Eclecticism has a very strong advantage to recommend it under various constrained circumstances. It involves a philosophy of local solutions to local problems. It is a very democratic approach to language allowing for a freedom of choice. (Tarone & Yule 1989:10). Wills (1990) sees an eclectic approach as a response to the conflict between syllabus and methodology, which are not discrete options." Brumfit (1984) recommends that a language learning program should provide a balance of activities. Some of which focus on accuracy and some on fluency. Accuracy presupposes a focus on form and fluency-on exchanging meaning accomplishing tasks and reaching outcomes. Crombie points out a recent tendency -syllabus designers accept eclecticism as offering better opportunities for better teaching. Increasingly, syllabus designers seem to be adopting the view that the best syllabus will in many cases, be one which is based on eclecticism: one which emerges from a combination of approaches rather than from a single approach. (Crombie 1985:10)
The real issue is not which syllabus to put first: it is how to integrate eight or so syllabuses (functional, notional, situational, topic, phonological, lexical, structural, skills) into a sensible teaching program (Swan 1990:89).An eclectic approach based on the structural, functional notional and communicative approaches to language teaching could keep a balance of accuracy and fluency.

Masum Billah is Programme Manager, BRAC Education Programme and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association. E-mail: [email protected]







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